A Double Dose of the Naked Chef

August 10, 2008 at 12:41 am 2 comments

Originally posted on Edible TV on January 14, 2008.

Jamie OliverOn Sunday January 6 the Food Network featured a Jamie Oliver double feature.  The first offering was a new episode of Iron Chef America where Oliver matched culinary chops with Mario Batali.  After the battle, we were treated to a sneak peek of Chef Oliver’s new Food Network series Jamie at Home.

Although some may argue that Oliver’s British birth should prevent him from participating on a show called Iron Chef America, one must remember that it is just a cooking show.  The episode began with a surprisingly serious looking Oliver admitting that he has twice wrecked a car when traveling to countries with right side driving.

Oliver and Batali both seemed taken aback by the choice of Cobia as the theme ingredient.  Cobia (also known as ling or lemonfish) has a firm texture and excellent flavor similar to sea bass.  Each contestant wasted little time in going about their tasks after literally catching their Cobia.

Oliver chose for one of his sous chefs his mentor Gennaro Contaldo.  Gennaro provided a splash of energy as he greatly resembles the comic relief character from an old 40’s film.  His performance nearly stole the show and leaves one wondering Why doesn’t this guy have his own show?  At one point Genarro babbled an Italian rant so genuine that even Batali could not keep up with it.

Between Oliver’s charm, Mario’s joviality, and Gennaro’s whimsy, the battle was certainly entertaining.  Apparently both chefs brought their “A” game as the judges were unusually enamored by the dishes.  However, there can only be one winner and as it usually does, the match went to the Iron Chef by the slimmest of margins.

Jamie at Home is a fascinating look at how mature Oliver has become as a chef.  It is a beautifully filmed show with stunning extreme close-ups of the organic produce that the host grows himself in his own garden.  Transitions between scenes have a smart artistic look employing sketches and handwritten samples of dialog from the previous segment.

Although Oliver has grown in regards to his cooking, his look remains the same rustic, almost beach bum, persona that we are used to from his other shows.  Furthermore he retains some of his crude, almost irreverent, cooking methods while introducing us to more complex and delicate flavors.

Whatever the forces that have kept Jamie Oliver from our airwaves the past few years, I am glad they have come to their senses.  Oliver is one of the most inventive young chefs around and his new show appears to be just as entertaining as his past endeavors.

Now, can someone please get Gennaro his own show?

Photo from Food Network.

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2 Comments

  • 1. Ross  |  June 28, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Does anyone have a link to where to where I can but the square (4″ X 4″), wooden-handled, latice-wired mandoline which Jamie Oliver used to thinly slice the white asparagus and small, baby zucchini on Iron Chef America Battle Cobia? Alton Brown likened the kitchen tool as “kind of a primitive chittara” used to shred vegetables (the Italian pasta tool). I’ve thought of looking for this tool in an asian kitchen store in Chinatown next to the bamboo steam baskets. Thanks for any help at all.

  • 2. Ishrath  |  August 20, 2009 at 5:31 am

    Totally, totally, agree with you. Jamie at Home TV show rocks (rather digs)!! Right from the concept, production, presentation to everyhting… the show is perfect and heartwarming. You said it right, my friend! Happy gardening and happy cooking to you.


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Stuart Reb Donald

Stuart is a celebrity chef and award winning food writer. Donald performs live cooking demonstrations and penned the cookbook Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor."

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